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George Orwell, Pennsylvania tax collector

Hey, Pennsylvanians, if you owe back taxes the state wants to make sure you know that it knows all about you.

It's May 2010, but the Keystone State revenue office has been airing this "1984" style television ad promoting its tax amnesty program that runs through June 18.

I don't know how many folks the commercial has prompted to participate in the amnesty, but judging from reaction I'm reading online, it has succeeded in creeping people out.

Yes, we know that based on our past tax returns, various government-issued licenses we hold and even our credit records, Uncle Sam and his state cousins can pretty easily track us down.

And while this type of implicit threat might get a few more folks to get their unpaid taxes in order, it also perpetuates the bad, or at least uncomfortable, perception most folks have of tax officials.

What do you think? Good ad? Bad ad? Scary? Silly? Do you think it'll be effective in getting more people to participate in Pennsylvania's amnesty?

Regardless of your take on the state's amnesty marketing program, if you live in Pennsylvania -- or in the city of Philadelphia which is holding its own tax amnesty period right now, too -- you might want to think about paying up while you can get a break on the penalties and interest associated with your tax debt.

And if there really is a tax collector named George Orwell, in Pennsylvania or elsewhere, drop me a note. I'd love to chat!

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It's a terrible ad - and completely uncalled for tactics. I blogged this same issue... I think amnesty is terrific but there's no need to scare people (especially those already in compliance) in order to do so. Sad and pathetic.

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